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Faith and Race in American Political Life

Edited by Robin Dale Jacobson and Nancy D. Wadsworth

Publication Year: 2012

Drawing on scholarship from an array of disciplines, this volume provides a deep and timely look at the intertwining of race and religion in American politics. The contributors apply the methods of intersectionality, but where this approach has typically considered race, class, and gender, the essays collected here focus on religion, too, to offer a theoretically robust conceptualization of how these elements intersect--and how they are actively impacting the political process.


Antony W. Alumkal, Iliff School of Theology * Carlos Figueroa, University of Texas at Brownsville * Robert D. Francis, Lutheran Services in America * Susan M. Gordon, independent scholar * Edwin I. Hernández, DeVos Family Foundations * Robin Dale Jacobson, University of Puget Sound * Robert P. Jones, Public Religion Research Institute * Jonathan I. Leib, Old Dominion University * Jessica Hamar Martínez, University of Arizona * Eric Michael Mazur, Virginia Wesleyan College * Sangay Mishra, University of Southern California * Catherine Paden, Simmons College * Milagros Peña, University of Florida * Tobin Miller Shearer, University of Montana * Nancy D. Wadsworth, University of Denver * Gerald R. Webster, University of Wyoming

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-viii

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Introduction: Intersecting Race and Religion

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pp. 1-30

In March 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign is nearly upset by the release of footage of his former preacher, Jeremiah Wright, employing black theology to critique aspects of U.S. history and policy. This ignites a political firestorm, culminating in Obama’s denouncement of Wright’s “extremism” and an unprecedented speech directly focusing on the issue of race in America...


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pp. 31-32

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Religion, Race, and the American Constitutional Order

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pp. 33-55

There is little controversy among scholars of American religion that the role of religion in American society has changed dramatically since the Civil War, even if the nature of that change is subject to debate. The fact of change, however, has only more recently been theorized in the context of the relationship of religion to America’s public institutions. But by the beginning of the twentieth century...

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Quakerism and Racialism in Early Twentieth-Century U.S. Politics

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pp. 56-79

The signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898 by the United States marked two important political developments: the acquisition of new overseas territories in Puerto Rico and the Philippines, and the inheritance of political authority over the nonwhite races inhabiting those territories (Thompson 1989).1 Modern U.S. imperialism had begun with the assertion of national sovereignty over nonwhite races...

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Race, National Identity, and the Changing Circumstances of Jewish Immigrants in the United States

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pp. 80-102

The late nineteenth century and early twentieth century were a period of not only high immigration but also major social change. The discourse on immigration was highly racialized, and U.S. immigration and naturalization policy was largely determined by prevailing racial hierarchies that characterized different national groups according to their “fitness for self-government” and “whiteness.”...

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What Would Robert E. Lee Do? Race, Religion, and the Debate over th eConfederate Battle Flag in the American South

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pp. 103-124

The two most important events in the history of the American South are the Civil War of the 1860s and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. While race clearly played a dominant role in these two historical upheavals, the region’s deeply felt religiosity was also central to both events (Miller, Stout, and Wilson 1998). White Southerners viewed the Civil War in theological terms, as a war against...

Acting Out

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pp. 125-126

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The Black and White of Moral Values: How Attending to Race Challenges the Mythology of the Relationship between Religiosity and Political Attitudes and Behavior

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pp. 127-148

The 2004 presidential elections revealed two dramatic findings for scholars of religion and politics. First, race and frequency of religious attendance were the two most powerful predictors of vote, stronger than other demographic factors such as gender, education, income, or region (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life 2005). This correlation between religious attendance and voting behavior...

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Latino Religion and Its Political Consequences: Exploring National and Local Trends

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pp. 149-169

Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the United States, constituting 15.4 percent of the population in 2008 (Pew Hispanic Center 2010). Yet many scholars have noted their lack of political participation compared to other ethnic groups. For example, when it comes to voter registration...

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The Stranger among Us: The Christian Right and Immigration

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pp. 170-186

There is a dearth of work on the Christian Right that deals with race. Some of the important exceptions begin to unpack the dynamics between white and black Christian conservatives. But what happens if we extend the frame beyond black and white? How does the Christian Right approach, and become informed

Possibilities and Limits

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pp. 187-188

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Political Advocacy through Religious Organization? The Evolving Role of the Nation of Islam

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pp. 189-206

While not an explicitly political organization, the Nation of Islam has been politically relevant since its founding in 1931. The Nation’s founding doctrines of racial separatism and economic self-sufficiency for blacks have required that the organization contend with political realities for African Americans. As Jacobson and Wadsworth discuss in the introduction to this volume, the Nation...

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A Demanding Conversation: The Black Manifesto in the Mennonite Church, 1969–1974

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pp. 207-230

In early 1969, Black Power activist James Forman presented the “Black Manifesto To the White Christian Church and the Jewish Synagogues in the United States of America and All Other Racist Institutions” at the National Black Economic Development Conference (NBEDC) in Detroit. With the backing of the conference delegates, Forman demanded $500 million for Christian and Jewish participation in slavery and the ongoing oppression of African Americans. Although...

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Religion and Race: South Asians in the Post-9/11 United States

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pp. 231-248

South Asians in the United States are a highly diverse group in terms of religious faith. The group includes Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, among others. For South Asians, religion is an important element in a cluster of identities ranging from nation of origin, language, region, and class to caste (the latter especially in the case of Indian immigrants). A panethnic...

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Ambivalent Miracles: The Possibilities and Limits of Evangelical Racial Reconciliation Politics

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pp. 249-274

One of the great wonders of religion is its profound pliability. Not only can different collectivities wield the same religion for opposite purposes but a group that once drew on a faith-based meaning system to found a particular mission can also, in a changed historical context, adjust that system to fuel a reformed set of objectives...

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Racial Justice in the Protestant Mainline: Liberalism and Its Limits

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pp. 275-298

While the Christian Right has been the focus of considerable scholarly and media attention for the past two and a half decades, it is hardly the only politically significant sector of American religion. The so-called mainline Protestant denominations experienced declines in both political power and membership during the last half century, yet they continue to maintain a significant public...


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pp. 299-302


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pp. 303-320

E-ISBN-13: 9780813932057
E-ISBN-10: 081393205X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813931951
Print-ISBN-10: 0813931959

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 6 figures, 12 tables
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects.
  • Race -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Religion and politics -- United States.
  • Minorities -- United States -- Politics and government.
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